Investigators have discovered a bottle containing a deadly nerve agent inside the home of one of the two people poisoned with the same substance in southern England in June, U.K. officials said Friday.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her boyfriend Charlie Rowley, 45, were rushed to the hospital on June 30 after they were found unconscious in Amesbury, England. Authorities confirmed the pair had been exposed to Novichok, a highly lethal chemical weapon developed by the former Soviet Union. (RELATED: Two British Citizens Critically Ill After Exposure To Same Soviet-Era Nerve Agent That Struck Down A Former Spy And His Daughter)
Sturgess died at the hospital on Sunday, and Rowley remains hospitalized in intensive care.
During a search of Rowley’s home on Wednesday, detectives discovered a small bottle containing a suspicious substance. Subsequent tests confirmed the substance in the bottle was Novichok, Metropolitan Police said, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators are looking into the origin of the bottle and how it came to be in Rowley’s house. Rowley, who has regained consciousness, has spoken with investigators about the incident, but police have not revealed if he has provided information that could identify the source of the bottle.
Just prior to falling ill, Rowley and Sturgess had been in the nearby city of Salisbury, where ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by Novichok in March. The Skripal incident was thought to be an assassination attempt coordinated by the Russian government against the former spy.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in both poisonings.
Further tests are being conducted to see if the Novichok found in Rowley’s house is from the same batch as what was used to poison the Skripals, police said. In the meantime, authorities have warned local residents not to pick up “any foreign object” that could contain liquid or gel.
“This is clearly a significant and positive development,” said Neil Basu, chief of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terror division, according to The Sun. “However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time.”
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